Rekindling wins Melbourne Cup for Joseph O'Brien

Irish trainers came in one, two, three, in this year’s Emirates Melbourne Cup in Flemington

Corey Brown jockey on Rekindling (22) kisses the cup as trainer Joseph OBrien looks on after they won the 157th Melbourne Cup. Photograph: Getty

Irish trainers came in one, two, three, in this year’s Emirates Melbourne Cup in Flemington on Tuesday.

Rekindling, a promising three year-old stayer, provided the biggest win of 24-year old trainer Joseph O’Brien’s career so far, finishing just ahead of Johannes Vermeer, trained by O’Brien’s father, Aidan.

Rekindling came with a late surge to reel in Johannes Vermeer and provide a second Melbourne Cup for veteran jockey Corey Brown, who also won in 2009 with Shocking.

The youngest horse in the race and carrying the third-smallest weight, the winner was the first northern hemisphere three-year old (breeding seasons are different and Rekindling is classified as a four-year old in Australia) to win since Comedy King in 1910 and the youngest winner since Skipton in 1941.

Australian jockey Corey Brown gestures after riding Rekindling to win the Melbourne Cup at Flemington Racecourse on Tuesday. Photograph: EPA

It was a third win for Ireland in the race, coming after Dermot Weld’s two successes with Vintage Crop in 1993 (the first northern hemisphere horse to win the Melbourne Cup) and Media Puzzle in 2002.

Running third was Willie Mullins’s Max Dynamite. Ireland’s six-strong assault on the race yielded top 10 finishes for Mullins’s other two runners Thomas Hobson, sixth, and Wicklow Brave, 10th. Joseph O’Brien’s US Army Ranger came in 18th.

“I can’t believe it,” was the reaction of the winning trainer. “I am thankful to Lloyd and Nick (Williams, owners), they suggested to bring him down and he would have a good chance in the race. His preparation went really good. Corey gave him an unbelievable ride.

“For everyone and the lads at home and the lads here have done an unbelievable job. All the lads at home, all year round, have done a great job with him. I can’t quite believe it. This is unbelievable. It hasn’t sunk in yet.”

Rekindling ridden by Australian jockey Corey Brown (front) wins the Melbourne Cup. Photograph: EPA

It was a record, sixth win in the race for owner Lloyd Williams, who had six runners in the field. He was asked to rate their chances beforehand and had reservations about the eventual winner.

“The question you’ve got to ask yourself about Rekindling: he’s had a long preparation; he’s been going since April. The horse is very well here. But whether April to November is too long for a three-year-old, I’m not sure.

“In Europe this year, three-year-olds have been beating all the older horses. Rekindling’s right there. If Rekindling has got over his eight months training, and he looks well, he’s right in the race with 51.5kg.”

Reacting to his victory, Williams said that it was “an amazing achievement” for Joseph O’Brien, “close to being able to walk on water”.

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times